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Blog>Guides>Stress Accumulated at Work Can Drain Your Energy and Lead to Burnout

Stress Accumulated at Work Can Drain Your Energy and Lead to Burnout

Article index


  • Why stress makes you tired

  • Emotional exhaustion and how it affects work

  • Daily habits and how work-life balance can reduce stress


Feeling stressed? We’ve all been there. Most people know how feelings of stress can quickly take over many aspects of daily life, leaving you emotionally drained and tired.

And with remote work during the coronavirus pandemic blurring the line between time on and time off, many are feeling the effects of workplace stress.

The term ‘stress’ isn’t necessarily a bad word. Biologically speaking, it’s what helps us react and survive. Short-term work stress can be a normal part of our daily lives, but it can become a bigger issue if it’s ongoing. When left unresolved, chronic stress can lead to tiredness and can affect how the body defends itself from injury or disease.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to take the appropriate measures to manage work-related stress. This article explains how stress can affect you and offers ways to reduce it with the overall goal of creating a better work-life balance.


Can Work Stress Make You Tired?

A long, stressful day is enough to make anyone ready for a nap. Sounds harmless, right? Unfortunately, prolonged stress can lead to emotional exhaustion and make you both physically and mentally tired. That’s because the stress response puts your brain and nervous system in high gear.

Top this off with long hours and not enough sleep, and — whoosh — you’ve just added some serious fuel to the fire. This can lead to decreased energy levels, lack of motivation, and falling productivity at work, leading to more feelings of stress, effectively creating a feedback loop from hell.

Why Does Stress Make You Tired?

A stressful day or week may not pose any long-term issues, but ongoing daily stress at work can take its toll on the mind and body. Stressors like long hours, overcommitment, and financial strain can steer us toward mental and physical fatigue.

By nature, the brain sees stressors as a threat and releases an army of stress hormones ready for battle. While the brain believes it’s helping your survival, this daily fight or flight response can increase mental exhaustion and cause panic attacks, sleep problems, and muscle tension, ushering in more tiredness.

What Does Stress-Related Fatigue Feel Like?

The capacity for stress is different for each person. What one person finds completely overwhelming may look like an exciting challenge for another. Regardless of what exceeds a manageable amount of stress from one person to the next, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms.

Stress-related fatigue differs from feeling drowsy at the end of the day or tired after physical activity. It may include symptoms like extreme sleepiness, brain fog, a diminished sense of well-being, and emotional exhaustion.

General Symptoms of Emotional Exhaustion

The Mayo Clinic describes emotional exhaustion as the accumulation of stress that leaves a person emotionally worn out. Emotional exhaustion can create a host of mental or physical symptoms, or a combination of the two. Some common symptoms of emotional exhaustion include:

  • Headaches

  • Absentmindedness

  • A change in appetite

  • Nervousness or panic attacks

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

  • Unexplained irritability or anger

Living with chronic stress can make you feel crummy and out of control. It may feel difficult to meet the demands of your work and personal life, leaving you feeling more worried and stressed.

How Stress and Emotional Exhaustion Affects Your Work

Eventually, stress and emotional exhaustion can catch up with you and affect your work. This can take you down the path of burnout. Some signs that show stress is affecting your work include:

  • Calling in sick often

  • Showing little interest in work

  • Getting easily irritated with colleagues or clients

  • Having low energy

  • Thinking your work makes little difference or is meaningless

  • Contemplating changing jobs

An increase in work-related absences, lack of purpose, and lessening camaraderie among co-workers can affect your work and how you feel about your role. Creating boundaries to create a work-life balance can help improve your overall outlook and motivation at work.

4 Ways to Restore Your Work-Life Balance and Reduce Stress

Fortunately, some lifestyle changes and self-care tips can help ease the burden of emotional exhaustion and minimize stress. The following habits can help restore your work-life balance.

Leave Work at Work


This may sound easier said than done; however, establishing a work-life balance and creating boundaries can help reduce stress and improve physical and mental health. Despite an overwhelmingly misleading belief that longer hours mean better performance, workers who make the conscious decision to create a balance between work and personal life feel greater personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Ways to leave work and disconnect at the end of the day include:

  • Establishing home office hours

  • Setting up to-do lists

  • Maintaining deadlines

  • Planning after-work activities

  • Enjoying the commute home

  • Learning to say 'no'

Spend Time Doing Hobbies You Love


A hobby is anything we enjoy and spend time doing. Whether playing a sport, reading, cooking, or doing something creative, hobbies are a rewarding way to relax, unwind, and enjoy life.

More than stress busters, hobbies can help alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms, increase your sense of well-being, and offer a number of health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure and a lower heart rate.

Ways to let off steam after work include:

  • Participating in a team sport

  • Joining a book club

  • Signing up for art classes

  • Taking a dance class

  • Enjoying a nature hike

  • Planning a solo or family getaway

Whether a quiet activity on your own or with a group of friends, family, or strangers, spending time doing hobbies you love can enrich your life, renew the senses, and offer a fresh perspective.

Make a Self-Care Plan


Self-care is more than a buzzword. It’s an essential component of meeting your personal needs and taking care of your physical and mental health. Prioritizing self-care can help ease times of stress, fight off health problems, and combat emotional exhaustion and job burnout.

Self-care can look different for each person, but some common ways you can nurture your mind and body include:

  • Eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, grains, fruits, and vegetables

  • Incorporating physical activity into your daily life

  • Contacting loved ones

  • Practicing mindfulness

  • Recognizing stressors

  • Performing relaxation techniques

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Limiting alcohol

Taking care of your personal needs isn’t a luxury; it is vital to living your best life. When you put a self-care plan into action, you can become better in all that you do.

Change Up Your Routine


Doing the same thing day in and day out can get dull. While it’s nice to know what to expect each day, living on autopilot can make you feel drained. Changing your routine can break up the monotony and help reduce stress.

Ways to change up your day-to-day routine include:

  • Trying a standing desk

  • Changing your work environment

  • Practicing breathing exercises

  • Taking a walk in between work tasks

  • Considering flexible scheduling

A lack of spice in life can make an unhappy brain. Liven up the day with something novel to break up the mundane.

Evaluate Your Options for the Future

Prioritizing what matters can help you avoid job burnout and create the work-life balance you crave. Consider your options for the future and discover a variety of jobs that can help you find that right balance on Joblist.

Visit our quiz page and get job matches based on your personal preferences.

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